Spanish Navy frigate ESPS Mendez Nunes broke off from the US aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and its carrier strike group (CSG) as it headed for the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tension between the US and Iran.
The Spanish frigate’s withdrawal from the carrier strike group was first reported by Spanish news outlet El Pais.
Spanish defense minister Margarita Robles defended the decision by telling reporters that the frigate departed the CSG because operations in the Persian Gulf were not part of the original mission.
ESPS Mendez Nunes had been scheduled to operate with the US aircraft carrier until October this year, sailing in the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The frigate was to visit San Diego with the US Navy ships before returning home.
The Spanish report further said that the frigate could rejoin the carrier strike group after it returns from the Persian Gulf.
The Abraham Lincoln CSG (ABESCG) entered the US 5th Fleet area of operations on May 9. The group’s accelerated transit to the Persian Gulf follows an announcement from the US National Security Council that the carrier, as well as a bomber task force, would be deployed to the Strait of Hormuz “in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” about a possible Iranian attack on US or ally forces.
The tensions were further heightened by reports of a sabotage attack on four tankers in UAE waters near Fujairah.